The Freaky Table meets Hortus | A freaky hortusized green soup + A walk in Venice


|Link to Valentina’s post & The bowls you see are from The Freaky Raku |

It’s a sunny morning and I am walking across the small roads of my village. The sun hasn’t melted the frost yet, and everything is shimmering like a mirror. There are fields all around me and at the end of the land there’s the laguna. I can’t see it from here, but when the wind brings the unmistakable scent of mist and salty water, I am reminded that the sea is always there and not too far away.
Some sudden memories about a few amazing days I have recently spent are coming to my mind like scattered photograms. I recall bits of conversation, laughter and two light blue eyes, so clear that you could read the soul behind them.I think that sometimes, when we meet someone on our path, it is not by chance. And when I first met Valentina, on a grey Venetian morning, I instantly knew that my life had been gifted with one more special person.
Up and down the bridges, talking and talking, we walked through a sleepy Venice, which revealed its most sincere nature: a mixture of decadence and opulence, wrapped in the slowness of an ordinary week day. My favorite Venice.


If I think about all that happens before that moment in which two different lives cross each other’s path and finally face each other, I can’t help but smile about how amazing meetings can be sometimes. The house where I grew up has always been a crossing point for many people: artists, painting students, travelers, friends. Our table was often set for more than just us, in case someone arrived. No one better than my mum taught me the importance of hospitality. She always said that meeting people is the greatest treasure you could desire. To open your front door and welcome someone in your intimate life is the most honest way I have to tell people about me, without filters. Our home speaks of us and who we are.
I wanted to open my own front door for someone I had been admiring for a while, someone who has been an inspiration and since the beginning of The Freaky Table has oriented my curiosity towards something that became in the end my everyday work.
Hortus Natural Cooking is for sure one of the blogs that I followed first and I still keep on following. Not mentioning all the many reasons why I always end up reading Valentina’s posts, what became more relevant for me is definitely a cultural affinity I could reflect myself in and look up for inspiration.
I wasn’t wrong. The more I walked with her, getting into in our conversation, and getting lost in the Calli of the Ghetto (the Jewish district of Venice), between clothes hung out to dry and Klezmer music, the more I noticed – even if our backgrounds are different – how many things we had in common. And maybe we were there together in that precise moment because of them.


Leaving behind the dark porticati, we walked through in the furthest corners in the less touristy itineraries, and all the stories linked to those places we visited, we went back in what us Venetians call “la terraferma”, in the countryside not far away from the laguna, where I live.
Walking past my family’s ateliers, collecting some old items here and there and after a quick lunch based on radicchio risotto, while my dad (tenderly called “maestro Zarotti” by us because he always knows more than anyone else) was entertaining us with funny and ancient venetian stories, we improvised a Freaky-Hortusized set – that’s how we called it- to take some pictures together. We laughed balancing on top of a chair (where we both often find ourselves to shoot something from above) while the house was slowly getting filled with the sweet scent of leeks and tuscan kale, harvested just a few minutes earlier in my garden and transformed into the green soup that would later become our dinner.


I fink you Freaky” by Die Antwoord – my eternal theme song – was the somewhat trash soudtrack of that long day.
After only 4 days, during which we managed to fit another trip to Venice, a visit to Villa Pisani (here’s an older post about this place) and a full immersion in the secrets of our Freaky Raku studio, the place where Francesco and I create our raku ceramics) I had the clear feeling of knowing Valentina since a long time. It’s weird connections that we can’t quite understand maybe as many others….but they make us comfortable and make us feel good when we meet someone positive with whom we can share a nice wellness and calm feeling, as if we had been tied since forever.
It’s a sensation I have already felt. My house gets filled with a guest’s presence and when he leaves he also leaves behind inescapable void. But it is in this very void that lies the treasure he left us with, traces of an everlasting passage.


A freaky hortusized green soup
Recipe type: vegetarian soup
  • 2 medium leeks
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (about 500 gr trimmed)
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 lt. (4 cups) hot water or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • salt, to taste
  • Grated Parmigiano cheese, to taste
  1. Peel the potatoes and wash them thoroughly. Do the same with the leeks and kale.
  2. Slice the leeks, trim the kale, discarding the hard stems, and cube the potatoes.
  3. Add the oil to a pot and stir-fry the leeks for five minutes, until translucent.
  4. Add the cubed potatoes and stir-fry for 5 more minutes.
  5. Add the kale to the pot, and stir well.
  6. Cover the vegetables with the water or stock, cover, and cook on medium for 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. After this time, uncover and cook for 5 more minutes. Add salt to taste.
  7. Blend the soup with a regular or immersion blender until smooth and creamy.
  8. Serve hot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmigiano cheese.


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  • Avatar
    Reply Kankana 03/02/2016 at 9:29

    So glad to have found your beautiful space. Your photos are so poetic, just like your write up. You totally transported me to Venice.

    • Zaira Zarotti
      Reply Zaira Zarotti 03/02/2016 at 11:29

      Welcome! Thank you, I am so happy you’re here!

  • Avatar
    Reply Ilaria Guidi 03/02/2016 at 11:33

    Post bellissimo…foto meravigliose…bello vedervi ed immaginarvi assieme…tu e Valentina siete due grandi artiste 🙂 poi le tue ceramiche mi piacciono moltissimo!

  • Avatar
    Reply Isolde 11/04/2016 at 18:54

    E bello e interessante di partecipare a questo incontro

  • Avatar
    Reply Natalia 13/12/2016 at 9:34

    Oh, this soup looks like my favourite type of soup: love that deep and earthy color! Thank you, Zaira!

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